12 Best Museums In New York City You Must Visit

New York City has some of the coolest museums in the USA and the world. In general, New York City’s cultural amenities are many.

It is indeed a global village. But none of these can compare to the sheer number of its museums, their sizes and variety.

In fact, one problem New Yorkers face isn’t finding a museum to visit but finding the right museum to visit. In NYC, there are over 83 museums which makes it really difficult to pick which one to visit.

These museums are all made to match international standards spanning from the Upper East Side all the way to the lower East Side. With specialties like art museums, sky scrapper museums, National museums, national history museums, Spaceship museums and a whole lot of others to visit.

At the end of the day, New York’s ability to keep vivid records of the past makes it interesting to any and everyone with a sense of adventure. All you need to do is figure out your interest and NYC has something to fascinate you with.

Some of the most Iconic museums you can find in NYC are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and MoMA.

While you can spend an entire day gazing at the giant dinosaur skeleton in AMNH or the art and culture in these museums, there are also several smaller but equally amazing museums you can visit.

Learn more about NYC and what makes it so fascinating.

What Is The Best Museum To Visit In NYC?

This is impossible to answer. We say that because there is no ONE best museum to visit in NYC. Since we all have varying interests, our evaluation on what becomes the “best” also differs. That is why we have compiled a list instead.

Our list carries the best museums in the city so that everyone can find their individual bests.

There are museums focused on Art, Science, History, Kids, and so on. At the end of the day, this article will give you a list of everything.

Is that a lot to take in? yes it is. But if you’re looking for an NYC museum guide that will point you to the perfect museum for your unique preferences, look no further.

Our complete guide to the best museums in NYC has all the details you need to find the right museums and map out a path if you plan on visiting multiple museums.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Source: nytimes.com

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, also called the “the Met,” is the largest art museum in the United States. It houses a permanent collection of over 2 million art works which are divided into 17 curatorial departments.

The main building is located at 1000 fifth Avenue, at Manhattan’s Upper East side along the Museum Mile on the eastern edge of Central Park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 with the sole purpose of bringing art and art education to Americans.

Its enormous size makes it almost impossible to completely see in a day. The 13-acers of central park carries over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world.

It consists of art works from classical antiquity to ancient Egyptian art works. There are numerous paintings and sculptures from nearly every European master. Modern day art works are also on exhibition in the museum.

The met functions as an archive for African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine and Islamic arts. Think of it as a fully visual encyclopedia of musical instruments, ancient and modern costumes, accessories, weapons, armor of many different cultures from around the globe.

Everything about this building speaks history. Its interior has some notable features ranging from 1st century Rome down to modern American architecture.

As one of the biggest museums in the world, this gorgeous late 19th century neo-classical institution puts on display some of the rarest and finest pieces of art.

Inside this institution, you will find mummified royalty of ancient times, as well as avant-grade fashion coutoure from last year’s runway parades.

Young or old, visitors are given items to look forward to. Imagine seeing the Temple of Dendur physically. Imagine such a great feeling. This is an Egyptian temple from 10.B.C. it was transported from its Nile-side location.

Other highlights that promise to make your visit worthwhile. There is also an array of European and Asian armor, Grecian sculptures, and so much more.

Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art

You can purchase your tickets online so you don’t have to stand in line before you enter. But you should know that online tickets attract a full payment if suggested donations ($25 seniors $17 Students $12). If you’re working with a budget then we advise that you come in early during the weekend and pay what you wish.

You might also want to check what exhibits are on display. Special exhibits are likely to change every few months and they vary from big names to retrospective block busters. Sometimes, you may see little-known art works that carry potential.


The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Source: usatoday.com

Founded in 1929, MoMA is an iconic museum that should be on every New York visitor’s bucket list of places to visit. The Museum of Modern Art is the was the first museum devoted to modern era art. It is located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City on 53rd Street.

This museum plays an important role in unveiling, collecting and developing modern art. It is also one of the largest and most influential modern arts museums in the world. MoMA’s offers a rich and varied collection of modern day artworks.

In it you will find a panoramic overview of contemporary and modern art works ranging from European paintings and sculptures of the 1880s all the way to films, designs and performance arts of today.

At its opening, it housed an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing. Over time, more art works were added to its collection, which grew and now stands at over 150,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, architectural models, drawings, photographs, and design objects.

The collection also houses approx. 22,000 films, and about four million film stills. The library and archives has over 300,000 books, artist books, extensive individual files, and periodicals of over 70,000 artists from around the globe.

Some of the most notable pieces in the museum are: Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and more. For more modern collections, you have Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Murray, Cindy Sherman and many others.

The Museum runs an active schedule of modern and contemporary art exhibitions every year, it screens over 1,000 films and offers a wide range of educational programs for everyone. These programs range from artist talks to family workshops.

Today, the MoMA accommodates about 3 million visitors every year, making it not just a place to see art but to meet other artists as well as art enthusiasts.

Visit MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art has varying entrance fees depending on a number of factors. Note that each MoMA ticket grants you access to MoMA PS1, special exhibits and film screenings.

When you buy their tickets online, you’ll have the opportunity to skip the line at the museum entrance.

Ticket prices:

Adults $25
Seniors $18 (must be 65 and above with an ID to show)
Visitors with disabilities $18
Students $14 (with ID)
Children under 16 are free
Active US military members are free.


Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Source: guggenheim.org

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often called The Guggenheim, is another museum that makes it on our list of some of our best museums in NYC to visit. Located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th street in Manhattan.

It is the permanent home of the continually increasing impressionist, post-impressionist, modern and contemporary art collections. It also features special art exhibitions throughout the year.

The museum was established in 1939 by Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. It was to serve as a museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, Hilla von Rebay. It wasn’t until 1952 when Solomon R. Guggenheim died that its name was changed to what it is today.

When it was first opened, many critics panned the design of the building to that of a washing machine or an inverted oatmeal bowl. Today however, this building has become one of the most beloved architectural icons by New Yorkers and tourists.

Its unique shape of being wider at the top than the bottom earned it the nickname, “temple of the spirit.” Its ramp gallery of several artworks from Europe and America extends from the ground floor and is arranged in a continuous spiral along the outer edges of the building and ends under the ceiling skylight.

The Guggenheim Museum grew from Solomon R. Guggenheim art collection, which was part of a fortune made in the American mining industry by his father, Meyer Guggenheim. Solomon began collecting abstract art in 1920s and in 1939 which he put on display when he opened the museum.

In 1992, the building underwent massive expansions and renovations which lead to the construction of an adjourning tower.

Currently, the Guggenheim Museum has a comprehensive collection of artworks from across European paintings through the 20th century. He also collected American paintings from the second half of the century.

In the museum, you will find the world’s largest paintings by Wassily Kandinsky.

In some of the permanent collections you will find the Brancusi exhibits. Several of his artworks are featured here including his sculptures and photographs.

Constantin Brancusi was a pioneer of both non-objective sculptures. He was also one of those artists that was constantly in search of new ways to present these artworks to an audience.

His exhibition relied on creating a relationship with his many pieces of art. Instead of seeing each piece as an individual piece, he made us see each piece as a unique part of a bigger whole.

Visiting the Guggenheim Museum

Like most other museums, the Guggenheim is packed full during the weekends so you might want to visit it during the week. You can also visit their website to see what exhibitions are on display during that time of the year.

Tickets can be bought online so you don’t have to follow the line at the entrance. Ticket prices are as follows:

Adults $25
Students and Seniors $18
Children under 12 are free.


American Museum of Natural History

Source: amnh.org

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and it is one of the world’s preeminent scientific educational and cultural institutions. It is a natural history museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City.

Beyond its iconic tourist attraction displays, the most iconic piece in the room for many visitors still remains as the 94-feet long blue whale.

The prehistoric Barosaurus skeleton rears up as if to scale the adjacent Allosarus skeleton and so many other iconic pieces you will find in this building.

The museum features permanent exhibition halls, including galleries for temporary exhibitions, the Rose Center for Earth and Space.

The museum is also home to the Theodore Rossevelt Memorial. If you’re familiar with NYC, this is New York State’s official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nations 26th president. The museum is a tribute to his ever enduring legacy of conservation.

The 148 years old museum has five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers that support its over 200 scientists.

This building accommodates everyone both young and old, thanks to its world class permanent collection of over 33 million specimens and artifacts. It also has a special collection of genomic and astrophysical data and frozen tissue samples and it serves as one of the largest natural libraries in the world.

It has four floors which are filled to the brim with artifacts. You could walk in and spend an entire day looking at its collection of animals that hail from America, Asia, Africa, the rain forest and practically every part of the world.

You can also choose to pick up the path of an anthropologist and study the evolution of the human species. Different halls have been dedicated to different cultures. You can also learn about extinct or almost extinct races and cultures.

You can also explore the life of a geologist by looking at the sparkling rocks, and minerals. Everyone reverts to being a child once again once they see the Tyrannosarus Rex, or the Wooly Mammoth at the Apatosarus in the fourth floor which stores the fossil collection.

The museum is located on the Upper West Side in front of Central Park. Highlights include the Hayden Planetarium directed by Neil degrasse Tyson.

Its evolutionary timeline will astound and awe you as you delve back over 3.5 billion years into the past. It is jam-packed with dioramas, interactive installations, and interesting exhibits.

The museum consists of 26 buildings with 45 exhibition halls, plus a research library. There is also a planetarium where you can explore the far reaches of outer space.

Visit the American Museum of Natural History

During special exhibitions, adults pay $27, students and seniors $22 and children $16. If you plan on spending the whole day in the museum, you should go for the Super Saver tickets which costs $35 for adults, $28 for seniors and students, and $22 for children.


Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Source: newyork.com.au

If you’re a fan of vintage planes, WWII relics and aircraft carriers, the Intrepid docked at Pier 86 is where you need to be. The museum allows you to get up close to observe the nuts and bolts of these fighter planes that were in action not too long ago.

Making the trip to Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood along Hudson river is worth it if you’re a fan of American Military and Maritime history.

The Vessels on display here fought in the pacific war during the ‘40s. they withstood head-on attacks by Kamikaze planes and some withstood strikes from troops. Visiting this building exposes you to a wealth of information about how naval officers lived on these massive vessels.

You also get hands-on displays of the items they use in their everyday lives. Visitors can also view the lower quarters of these war machines, the outdoor flight deck and its impressive assortment of fighter jets and helicopters.

If you are non-claustrophobic you should descend into the Growler. It’s the only American guided missile submarine that’s open to the public. In this war machine, your tiny New York apartment will feel a lot more spacious and airy.

In general, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum promises an exhilarating experience that promises to put a smile on your face and in your heart.

A series of photographs, films and artifacts from the Enterprise’s career makes the history of space travel as realistic as possible. Every aspect of this building and its contents is awe-worthy.


MoMA PS1 

Source: inhabitat.com

MoMA PS1 is the sister institution to MoMA, located in a striking Renaissance Revival former public school building in Long Island City, Queens. All manner of cutting-edge contemporary art is shown here, with a collection of over 200,000 pieces strong.

People-watching can be just as good as art, as creative types from around the city come here to find inspiration from the art. The museum is open to the general public until the end of September 30, 2015.

Museum is the third-largest in the five NYC boroughs and houses around 1.5 million artworks. The Museum is housed in an 1897 Beaux-Arts building and houses an incredible collection of more than 1,000 pieces of art.

It is one of the best Ancient Egyptian collections in the world and houses over three-thousand years of works spanning three thousand years of art history. The New York Museum is a great way to spend a few days in New York City at the Brooklyn Museum.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Source: sothebys.com

New York’s US Whitney Museum of American Art opened in 2015. Artworks include more than 25,000 works of art from the 19th century to 21st century.

Visitors can pay $25 a day for an hour to see the artworks, which range from paintings to artworks.

The museum was founded in 1930 by a prominent American art collector, and features more than 70 works of the same name, including one of the leading Americans of the late-20th century.

The New York-area museum is based on the name of the nation’s oldest art collection, with over 1,000 pieces of art that were donated in the 1990s.


The Jewish Museum

Source: thejewishmuseum.org

The Jewish Museum opened in 1947 in a former mansion of a Jewish family. The museum houses works by Jewish artists including Richard Avedon, Marc Chagall, Alfred Stieglitz, James Tissot, and Man Ray.

Its collection of more than 28,000 works of art, artifacts and media installations includes paintings, artifacts, sculptures, Jewish ceremonial art, and Jodica.

The first-ever museum dedicated to preserving Jewish art and culture, the museum also mounts important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.

Tenement Museum

Source: nytimes.com

Tenement Museum in New York shows the history of the city’s history. Visit the historic site to learn about the people who came to live there.

The exhibit is the first in the U.S. to show how immigrants shaped the city in the 19th and 21st century.

The museum also includes a new exhibition called ‘Under One Roof’ with stories of a Puerto Rican family and a Chinese immigrant family. It’s also a fun way to spend time with the rest of our time with family and friends.

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection is located in the Henry Clay Frick House, an industrialist, financier, and art patron on the Upper East Side. The collection includes works by Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt, El Greco, Goya, Whistler and more.

In addition to the vast art collection, the 18th-century French-style mansion itself is a piece of art. The museum is currently open on Madison Avenue at Frick Madison—the former Whitney and Met Breuer building.

Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York was built in 1932 to house the museum. The collection is over 1.5 million pieces strong. It incorporates art, photography, paintings, drawings, furniture, decorative objects and manuscripts.

The museum is located in Central Park, not far from the city’s main park, Central Avenue, but has a low profile for the tourists. It’s easy to spend a few hours at the museum because it’s out of the way for many people who don’t usually come to it to see the collection.

New York Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum looks at its long history and what it may look like in the future. The museum is dedicated to the city’s subway system and its tunnels.

With artifacts, art, and models on show, the museum is a surprisingly interesting and worthwhile place to visit. It looks at the history and future of the subway and how it could look like the rest of New York’s future.


What Are The Two Most Famous Museums In NYC?

Source: timeout.com

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, also called the “the Met,” is the largest art museum in the United States.

The 13-acers of central park carries over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world. It consists of art works from classical antiquity to ancient Egyptian art works.

There are numerous paintings and sculptures from nearly every European master. Modern day art works are also on exhibition in the museum.

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and it is one of the world’s preeminent scientific educational and cultural institutions. It is a natural history museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City.


What Are Some Unique NYC Museums?

Source: museumoficecream.com
  • Museum of Sex
  • Museum of Ice Cream
  • Tenement museum
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Jewish Museum
  • Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
  • The Skyscraper Museum
  • National Museum of Mathematics
  • American Folk Art Museum
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum

What Are Some Fun Museums In New York?

A lot of people find New York City interesting in many aspects and museums is one of them. Finding which ones to visit depends on your interests however and this should guide you which museums you consider to be fun.

You can refer to our suggestions above to see which museums offer art/ exhibitions that you like to see.

Which NYC Museums Are Free?

Most NYC museums are free to certain individuals and offer discounted prices on weekends, but here are some museums you can visit for free.

• Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
• The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Conclusion

NYC is a city filled with many opportunities for everyone and many people move to the Big Apple for many reasons. There are lot of individuals relocating to New York from other states in the US and from countries around the world.

In the city you will definitely find several activities that interest you. When you’re done visiting all the wonderful museums in this post, make sure to check out our other posts.

Our tour guide gives you the best of the city so you know the best way to spend your time in NYC.

Did you enjoy reading the article, you can learn more about New York in our homepage.

Image Sources:

  • nytimes.com
  • usatoday.com
  • guggenheim.org
  • amnh.org
  • newyork.com.au
  • inhabitat.com
  • sothebys.com
  • thejewishmuseum.org
  • timeout.com
  • museumoficecream.com
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